Johannesburg-based 25-year-old *Nandi knows all about this experience. She has what some might consider a 'simple to solve' problem with her boyfriend, except to her, it just isn’t that simple.
Her partner, 29-year-old *Kyle embarrasses her in front of her friends, family and colleagues every time he has one or two drinks. While he is adamant that he doesn’t have a drinking problem, all of Nandi’s efforts to get him to improve his recurrent bad behaviour have been futile.
Worried that this might just be the thing that destroys her relationship, Nandi has reached out to W24 with her story.
This is what she shared:
Kyle is an amazing boyfriend and I have had the most wonderful three years that any girl can imagine with him.
During our first year as a couple, he nearly never drank. This was one of the things I appreciated about him since I myself, am not a big drinker. However, as time passed, Kyle developed more of a taste for alcohol (for lack of a better expression) - something which although I didn’t necessarily approve of, I didn’t mind much because he’s a grownup who has the right to make his own decisions.
That is, until his drinking started interfering with my life.
The first incident, and something I’m having a hard time ridding my memory of because of the intense embarrassment I felt, happened at a work function.
It was an end of year Christmas party and we were allowed to invite a plus one. Of course, I asked the love of my life to join me. The night was going quite smoothly until Kyle had one too many and started speaking ridiculously loud, despite me asking him as calmly as possible to tone it down.
While I wish that was the worst thing that happened that night, unfortunately it wasn’t.
Before I decided it was best that we left, Kyle had walked up to my boss and asked her to stop being so harsh on me because I was one of the best employees the company had, and a whole lot of other things that made it seem like I had complained about my job, which I actually loved (although the boss in question did sometimes drill me a little too hard, something I had previously confided in him).
Red in the face, I dragged him away from my boss who looked completely affronted, and while he was practically “sticking up for me”, I wanted to kill him.
The next day, I sat him down and explained how his actions made me feel and he agreed that he’d stop drinking when he felt like he was reaching a silly level of drunk.
A few months later, however, I found myself wanting to bury my head in the ground once again when during a birthday dinner my family was having for my little sister.
Kyle kept interrupting speeches with what he thought was funny commentary, but was actually plain rude and quite disrespectful, all while my granddad, grandma and parents looked on quite shocked.
This time I was so upset, I asked him for a break.
He pleaded with me, but the break was going to be had. The look on my father’s face was enough to make me cry, so there needed to be repercussions.
After the break was done, and nearly a year after the last incident, Kyle disappointed me one more time when he got very drunk at my friend's braai and ended up wetting his pants. While my friends all had sympathy in their eyes, I could see their respect for him disappearing slowly.
At the moment, I’m not speaking to him, but I don’t want to end our relationship. I don’t believe he has a drinking problem, but rather can’t handle his alcohol.
How do I get him to stop this behaviour before it ruins our relationship?
READ MORE: Why do relationships fail?
Johannesburg-based relationship expert, Shelley Lewin shares some advice with Nandi:
“It sounds like her partner is unable to control himself after he has a few drinks and she is suffering as a consequence,” she says.
She advises Nandi to be more stern about what she expects from her partner.
“Perhaps he is not changing his behaviour because he sees her complaints as empty threats. Given that he is behaving like a child, invite him to step up as an adult,” she says to Nandi.
Thereafter, she tells Nandi to give her boyfriend an ultimatum.
“Offer him the following choices: Either he needs to choose NOT to drink when you are with your tribe, for the sake of his own dignity and self-respect OR he needs to accept that you will make a speedy departure when it becomes evident that he is getting drunk."
Finally, she tells Nandi to leave whenever her partner starts to act up. She also reminds Nandi that she should follow through and not back out of what she said she would do.
“If he chooses to behave like a fool, you don’t have to be there to witness it. Give him the options and then follow through,” she concludes.
*Names have been changed.
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